Green Pigeon Man

the old pond
a freedom fighter drops his pants
and plunges in

Simon Piggott wrote this haiku one hot summer’s day in Oshika-mura, Nagano, at 1,000m in Japan’s Southern Alps. He lived there for decades in an old wooden house he had named Saimon-tei 祭文亭, occasionally opening it up as a theatre and concert venue. He worked primarily as a translator, acted for a time as Kamasawa Village deputy headman, and led the organization supporting the local Shinto shrine, while also tending the nearby cairn to Prince Munenaga 宗良親王 (son of Emp. Godaigo and 14th century resistance leader for the Southern Court against the North), who had fled there. Simon had once presented on Munenaga and Oshika-mura to our Hibikiai Forum seminar in Kyoto.

Born in Northamptonshire, England on 7 April 1950, he passed away after a bout with skin cancer on 8th June, aged 72. He had studied Japanese Language & Literature in the 1970s at SOAS, London University, ahead of me, and much later, David Stormer, too. After graduation Simon returned to Japan and never left. We had played in the same football team in Tokyo in the early 1980s: the Hachiko Boys! Simon was a gifted, independent soul and taught those of us who visited him much about the art of country living. A breath of fresh air! He leaves behind a wife, three daughters, and seven grandchildren. We will sorely miss this unsung freedom-fighting Englishman here in Japan. Thank you, Saimon.
+ RIP +

いづかたも山の端ちかき柴の戸は月見る空やすくなかるらむ
on every side mountains
tower up around
my brushwood cottage
so narrow is the sky
in which i view the moon

(by Munenaga, trans. SP)

look past the garden
snow mountains are welcoming
stars, the confetti

(by SP)

Finally, and movingly, a short excerpt from a piece he wrote on his blogsite,  back in April:

… It was a beautiful spot, looking out to the high mountains across the valley. It was also adjacent to the place where he had cut down trees for firewood all those years ago.

He walked very slowly, still not confident whether his body wouldn’t be damaged by the exertion. But, so far, it seemed to be holding up.

As he neared his destination he saw an uncommon bird flying horizontally through the trees. Jays and rooks were common here, but it wasn’t one of those. By the flash of colour that he had caught sight of he identified it as an aobato, a green pigeon, a bird whose distinctive call he occasionally heard, but which he had only actually seen a few times. To see it today of all days seemed auspicious.

Immediately he decided that, in accordance with the Buddhist custom of taking a new name after death, he would call himself aobato-koji — Green Pigeon Man.

It was a joke. But he was also serious. Green Pigeon Man.

Presently he arrived at the clearing where the small statue for the dead farm animals stood. He searched for a suitable place to put the stone that would commemorate him, the Green Pigeon Man. About ten metres away he found four closely grouped pines. He would put his stone here between the trees.

Thus he would become the Green Pigeon Man of the Four Pines.

Then, satisfied with what he had accomplished, he set off back down the mountain.

He didn’t see the green pigeon again, but, in the forest just above his house, did faintly hear its call.

my gravestone is up:
unknown, unvisited, this
virgin rock perhaps
one day will kisses cover
like oscar’s in père lachaise*

Notes – *alluding to Oscar Wilde’s tomb, Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.
The old pond haiku was later published in our 2005 anthology Enhaiklopedia.
The full piece, Green Pigeon Man of the Four Pines, is available at Simon’s blogsite, here.
Richard Donovan and Tito hope to go to Oshika sometime to pay our respects at Green Pigeon Man’s gravestone.

Richard Steiner 50 Years Publication

A superb new full colour book has just come out from SAT Publications featuring 50 years of mokuhanga (woodprint) works by Icebox contributor and Hailstone book cover artist, Richard Steiner, also known as 刀斎 Tosai. The price of the book is 2,750 yen (including 10% tax). For Hailstone participants within Japan, the publishers will not charge postage (サービスです!) It is full of great design, lettering, humour and philosophy. Please consider supporting the artist? You will not regret it. Email order address is: sat-steiner”at”nifty.com

Here is a slideshow of some of the works in the book, mixed in with some of the book covers he has helped produce for Hailstone over the past two decades. For our own poetry book purchases, see our Publications page. Richard features as a poet in most of those, too!

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Basho’s Painted Scroll ‘Nozarashi Kikō’ Comes to Light in Kansai

The Fukuda Museum in Arashiyama, Kyoto has just announced that it has acquired a scroll painted by Basho himself of his 野ざらし紀行 Nozarashi Kikō journey centred on Kansai in 1684-5. They will exhibit the 14-metre scroll for the first time 10/22-1/9, and Hailstone will no doubt plan an event to go and see the work. My fellow editor, Nobuyuki Yuasa, translated the piece for Penguin Classic as ‘The Records of a Weather-exposed Skeleton’. It was the first of Basho’s great haibun journeys, but the only one he illustrated completely himself. The scroll was known to exist, but its whereabouts had not been confirmed for half a century or more. The Museum had been contacted by an Osaka dealer who had suspected that the scroll could be the missing one.

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The close-up shots of the scroll (each can be enlarged by clicking), clockwise from top centre show, respectively, Hakone, Yoshino, Kuwana, Tōdaiji’s Nigatsudō (in Nara), and Narutaki (in Kyoto). To give a flavour of the written account itself, here are some of Basho’s haiku inscribed adjacent to each of these illustrations:

(HAKONE: Kirishigure / fuji o minu hi zo / omoshiroki) . Misty rain / hides the view of Mt. Fuji… / yet still I’m spellbound!

(YOSHINO: Kinuta uchite / ware ni kikase yo / bō ga tsuma) . Beat your fulling-block / so I may enjoy its sound, please / wife of the temple priest

(KUWANA: Akebono ya / shirauo shiroki / koto issun) . Before sunrise… / young icefish flashing white / just one inch long

(NARA: Mizutori ya / kōri no sō no / kutsu no oto) . Water-drawing Ceremony – / cold sound of monks’ clogs / pounding the wooden floor

(NARUTAKI: Ume shiroshi / kinō wa tsuru o / nusumareshi) . Plums in white blossom, / but the crane’s absence might tell of / its kidnap yesterday!

It is also worth noting that a newly found scroll by Buson of Basho’s 奥の細道 Oku no Hosomichi travel sketch will be shown for the very first time at the Kyoto National Museum from June 14 to July 18 this year. Of the existing Buson scrolls on this subject, this is apparently the oldest.

‘Unbecome’ publication announcement by Branko

Hello everyone,

This is to let you know I have just published a poem in four acts in collaboration with a US poet, Jerry Gordon. The chapbook is called ‘Unbecome’.

We have privately made a total of 20 copies (10 apiece). Each book has a unique cover, hand painted using a special technique, and is hand-sewn.  I thought you or someone from haiku class might be interested in purchasing one? If anyone is interested, please let me know through the reply (comments) box below or email me (cacti”at”live.co.uk), as there are only 5 copies left (1000 yen per copy).  A sample of this book will be available to inspect at the next few Hailstone seminars in Osaka and Kyoto. 

Click on either photo to enlarge. Here’s an excerpt from a review by Stephen Gill:

“A renga-like dialogue for two (ryougin 両吟 in Jap.), I like the way it links and moves on. We have to uncover a hidden story/character development dictated by arbitrary means imposed by structure (pre-determined rules) while letting imagination have full play […] The work is a success in as much as I think it does actually exert a pull on the reader to find out what’s going on, where we’re heading, what conclusions to draw. Building a future with two pens. Tonally, it’s very good, too. On the downside, it’s very cryptic and varies in tone from ultimate philosophical sincerity to virtual insincerity (or at least bravura, having a good time with words). This left me wondering what a ‘roller coaster’ is beyond simply a hell of a ride and an adrenaline rush. The answer perhaps is that it occasionally gives you good views (insights). Your work does this, too.”

Cheers,

Branko

David Chigusa Stormer

Sunset is done
the morning glory keeps
winding the night

It is my very sad duty to inform our Circle members that David Chigusa Stormer passed away, in Bangkok on 15 May this year, just eleven days short of his 6oth birthday. He had been fighting prostate cancer and had gone there for special treatment not available in Japan. He was an original member of Hailstone Haiku Circle and his haiku have appeared in most of our books over the past two or more decades. He was also a regular contributor to Icebox, in recent years offering us many subtle haibun and haiku sequences, written both in Tokyo, where he lived and worked, and on his travels. He leaves behind his partner, Charles Chigusa, whom he married in 2009 in Auckland, N.Z. (the country of his birth). A graduate of London University’s School of Oriental & African Studies, where he read Japanese History, David was well equipped to live and work in Japan. He became a professional translator and rewriter. His modesty and gentleness suited this country nicely, and he did voluntary work with the NPO You Me We in Yokohama. He never lost the wry twinkle in his eye, nor his slightly irreverent sense of humour. He will be greatly missed.

+ RIP +

Morning eclipse ………………………………………… Brave man in bronze
a bell dulled……………………………………………… white-lipped, mute to
by winds and miles …………………………………….. the birds’ disrespect

Chhoki & Rajan Unlimited

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is unusual for Icebox to advertise a book by poets with no obvious connection to the Hailstone Haiku Circle, but Unexpected Gift  is an e-book of collaborative haikai ‘poems’, authored by Genjuan (& Kikakuza) Haibun Contest multiple awardees, Sonam Chhoki (Bhutan) and Geethanjali Rajan (India), and they have both expressed to me gratitude at how the Contest helped to bring them together and for my personal encouragement of their writing over the years. It’s a joy to be able to do so and for sure, there is some very delicate dancing between the authors here. This is very sophisticated, if that’s permissible in such a simple world as haiku. Published by Éditions des Petits Nuages in Canada, the book contains 25 responsive ‘poems’ chosen from 7 years of writing together – featuring haiku, senryu, tanka, haibun and tanbun – with a foreword by Mike Montreuil. The beautiful cover art and interior illustrations are by Dhaatri Vengunad Menon. What I found especially interesting was the way that, irrespective of whether the component parts were haiku or senryu or tanka or prose, they were treated as if the resultant composite piece was one longer poem.  Available on Kindle: ASIN: B09KV9SMNW. Highly recommended!

A rengay from the book (click on the page to read; Chhoki in italics):

The Latest and Last Genjuan Anthology

The Cottage of Visions, Genjuan Haibun 2018-21 anthology, 160pp, lilac cover A5, ¥1,400 (US$18 incl. p&p), just published by Hailstone! Available in Japan via teruyama2014″at”gmail”dot”com and for overseas mailing via indigoapple28″at”gmail”dot”com. Short of funds, this time we will only send it free to those in the book itself – awardees for the 2018-21 contests + judges and officers. Content: 40 awarded haibun, 13 judge’s comments (incl. ones by Nenten Tsubo’uchi, Toru Kiuchi, Akiko Takazawa, Hisashi Miyazaki, Sean O’Connor, and Angelee Deodhar), 8 haibun pieces by the judges, 3 new translations of Basho, Kyorai and Kikaku, 10 illustrations by Buson & Taiga. From the Preface:

“The door of the Cottage of Visions is surprisingly light. As I push it shut for the last time, I wonder if there is any point in locking it. While I’m away, perhaps the wind might blow it open and an animal get in? Or, if the windows are not properly fastened, creepers might just extend through the chinks and take over what’s been left inside – a low table, an oil lamp, some woven rush cushions, and piles and piles of papers with scribblings on many of them in both red and leaden grey.
At this time of year, the Genjuan is framed in vivid green. And this is how I shall remember it: a little thatched hut somewhere on a viridian hillside with the hint of a view across a distant lake.
Through breeze-rocked
new-leaved trees,
a world now short of breath
For ten years now into this hut have flown stories and haiku, the visions of so many good souls around the world…”

There will be no Genjuan International Haibun Contest next year. This has nothing to do with the epidemic; simply that all judges and the officer wanted a rest! The organizers (Hailstone Haiku Circle) have decided at this point to call it a day. We have tried to provide a bridge between Japan and the rest of the world in the field of haibun. Thank you for your creativity and enthusiastic support these past 10 years (13, if we include the first 3 as Kikakuza). Icebox will of course continue to publish and promote haibun in English. Enquiries can also be made, via comments below or on our Publications page.

Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2021 Results

Grand Prix

A Mead-Hall of the Mind by J Hahn Doleman (USA)

An (Cottage) Prizes

Wintering Grounds by Marietta McGregor (Australia)
The Departing by Manoj Nair (India)
Call to Prayer by Matthew Caretti (USA)

Honourable Mentions

Donnybrook Graveyard by Glenda Cimino (Ireland)
Bells on New Year’s Eve by Akihiko Hayashi (Japan)
Afternoon Memories by Margherita Petriccione (Italy)
Morning Zoo by Jennifer Hambrick (USA)
Great Horned Owl by Margaret Chula (USA)
Village Clean Up by Diarmuid Fitzgerald (Ireland)

Judges: Akiko Takazawa, Stephen Henry Gill, Sean O’Connor

Officer: Junko Oda

This year we had a record field of 139 entries from approx. 20 countries. For the first time, our entries came in by email, and not everyone stated where they live. Warm congratulations to all awardees, who will in due course receive certificates, judges’ comments and (the top four only) prizes. The 2021 prize-winning pieces are now available to read  on a dedicated page here at the Icebox. A little later on, they will also be published in The Haibun Journal.

20th Anniversary Haiku Collection – I Wish

Hailstone Haiku Circle was founded on 11.11.2000 at a meet in Shiga prefecture. That day, we visited Ukimido 浮御堂 and noticed a rainbow over the northern part of Lake Biwa. It had seemed to stay with us, there to the right of  Mt. Hira, all afternoon long! 20 years on, I feel that rainbow is still with us now, shining on miraculously in the sun and rain.

So, we are 20 years old, and may be feeling in need of an anniversary collection? Well, it has just come out! I’ve called the book ‘I Wish’ … for reasons only hinted at in the foreword and in the ‘wish’ haiku that crop up here and there within the book. The cover was painted by Richard Steiner (Tosai). There is an afterword by Gerald (Duro Jaiye). Besides the individual author pages, the book also contains rensaku (haiku sequences) on earthquake, flood, heatwave, typhoon, wildfire, and, of course, on pandemic, too. There is also a short In Memoriam section, a Glossary and an Events List at the end. No haibun, though, as Hailstone will be issuing an anthology of Genjuan Awarded Pieces (2018-20) in a few more months – and that will be “haibun max”! Watch this space.

‘I Wish’ is A6 (pocket-size), 104pp, costs ¥1,200 for single copies, and contains 218 haiku by about 60 poets, both Japanese and foreigners, mainly living in Kansai, West Japan. It will be available at most Hailstone events from Dec. 24 onwards … till at least mid-spring next year and can be ordered through the avenues described at the bottom of our Publications page. The publications officer will then send you details of payment options, depending on where you are, as well as of postage and packing costs.

I hope you will enjoy our new book. Long live that Hailstone rainbow !

David Cobb (1926~2020)

It is with a heavy heart that I have to report that a friend of many decades, co-founder of the British Haiku Society, close colleague in its early years, haibun pioneer, and 2020 Genjuan Haibun Contest Grand Prix winner, David Cobb, passed away quite naturally in his sleep surrounded by family in Essex, England on 6 November. He was 94. His son, Thomas, kindly wrote to me to bring this news, confiding that his father had been “thrilled with winning the Genjuan award this year and told all his friends and family about his achievement” and that “although ever the perfectionist, he had continued to “improve” Snow in Advent with each telling. I think he felt that winning the prize showed he still had the touch.” We judges were overjoyed when we found out it was his piece! He had both a wonderful sense of humour and a great sensibility to the seasons, as borne out by the concluding haiku in his Grand Prix work:

snowballs / even the rose bushes / starting to throw them

David had visited Hailstone in autumn 2004 to deliver his Sasakawa Prize Lecture here in Kyoto on the subject of his fledgling Almanac of Season Words Pertinent to England. We had hired a room at Hachidai Jinja for the purpose and guided him on a visit to the Basho-do and Buson’s grave in nearby Konpukuji Temple. On another day, I had joined him for an international haiku event in Basho’s birthtown, Iga-Ueno, where we were on the same renku table. I have never forgotten the verse he offered us for a winter stanza. It depicted “snow settling on a sensitive part” of Michelangelo’s David statue in Florence! That contribution certainly raised a few eyebrows in Iga.

 

His contribution to English haiku was immense and he will be sorely missed by family and friends, and in haiku journals and websites worldwide. My dear Old Turnip (Ko-bu), rest in peace.

Hailstone will attempt, if coronavirus allows, to do a renga in his honour in the near future and, if worthy, to send it to Thomas and sister Alison as a memento next year.

children panicking — / out of the tiger cage / a wasp!

pear leaves fall: / a landscape starts to form / between the branches

A much fuller tribute to David Cobb has just appeared on the Contemporary Haibun Online site. It includes short essays by Colin Blundell, Jim Kacian, Kim Richardson, Sean O’Connor and Stephen Henry Gill.

 

 

 

Hisashi Miyazaki (Kame-san)

(click photos to enlarge)

This will come as a shock to many of you, but I have to tell you that our dear friend and colleague, Hisashi Miyazaki, passed away suddenly of a respiratory infection (not corona) in Takatsuki, Osaka last Friday, 3 September, aged 80. He was only ill for two days. Hailstone Haiku Circle members will know him as a former assistant editor of the Icebox, a judge of the Genjuan Haibun Contest, and he was still serving on the Hailstone Committee helping to make decisions for our group. He is irreplaceable and will be hugely missed. Our hearts go out to his wife, Keiko, and the rest of the family. He was co-organizer of a forthcoming event in Takatsuki to be held on October 17th and we will have to redesign it as a Hisashi 亀さん (Kame-san) Memorial event. The character with which ‘Hisashi’ is written means ‘turtle’. Mr. Turtle.

Hisashi was born in Dec. 1939 in Osaka. He read biology at Kobe University and joined their Mountaineering Club, a passion he still had well into his seventies. He also loved fishing and haiku. He led several Hailstone Autumn Haikes. He became a Doctor of Pharmacy and worked as a research scientist testing new drugs in the Dainippon Seiyaku labs. After retirement, he did freelance medical translation work. His translation skills were to the fore in several haiku projects, too, most notably perhaps, the recent Japanese version of the Cottage of Visions haibun anthology, entitled イヌピアット語のレッスン, Inupiat Lessons, 2019. He also published an entertaining haiku collection in Japanese entitled 未来書房 The Future Bookstore, 2003, and a fine haibun collection オロロロの丘 Zigzag, 2010.


He co-edited our Hailstone anthology, Seasons of the Gods, 2007 and did the Japanese translations we published in Enhaiklopedia, 2005. He was responsible for bringing his Japanese haiku teacher, Nenten Tsubo’uchi onto the judges’ panel for the Genjuan Contest for four years. Above all, perhaps, he was that happy man who always made others feel relaxed and improved everything effortlessly… ‘light’ in all his dealings.

– R I P –

Three of his haiku, in Hisashi’s own English translations, from The Future Bookstore:

a snake creeping ………………….. temptation ………………………………….. deliquescence
up the stone mound — …………… on the mountain top: ……………………… of a manganese salt —
translation in progress ……………. to step onto ………………………………… August’s end
………………………………………. the spring rainbow

New Icebox Theme & Genjuan 2021 Guidelines

Some of you might have noticed that for a few months now, the Icebox seems to have lost Archives, Categories and the Poll from our right sidebar. Our server WordPress has told us that it is because the theme we have been using these past 12 years is beginning to break up and we should change to a new one. Please don’t be surprised to find Icebox looking different at the end of this month! It will be revamped, though all content will be preserved.

The Guidelines for next year’s Genjuan International Haibun Contest can now be read here https://hailhaiku.wordpress.com/genjuan-international-haibun-contest-2021-guidelines/ or via the page link above. (To return to the top page after reading, just click the Icebox title photo of hailstones on wood.) Please note that entries will not be accepted before Dec. 1, only 2 max., and that they must be submitted in the body of an email. This is to suit the Covid circumstances we live in and our new Officer, Junko Oda, but will no doubt also make it easier for most of you to submit! The three judges remain the same as last year.